From the beginning, Premier Dalton McGuinty’s green energy strategy has been a case of “ready, fire, aim.”
It started when he promised in the 2003 election to close Ontario’s coal-fired electricity plants by 2007. His latest promise is 2014.
He promised micro-generators of renewable energy absurdly expensive subsidies to produce green power, then backtracked because (a) the province couldn’t afford them and (b) many projects couldn’t be hooked into the power grid.
His government initially described a new natural gas-fired power plant in Oakville as vital to Ontario’s green energy plans, then killed it in the face of community opposition, suddenly declaring it unnecessary. The fact the local Liberal MPP could have lost his seat in this fall’s election over the issue, apparently had nothing to do with it.
In his latest reversal last Friday — which McGuinty was so proud of he announced it while the world’s attention was riveted on Egypt — he pulled the plug on offshore wind farms, of which he had previously been an enthusiastic backer, for further study.
This after an earlier fiasco in which Energy Minister Brad Duguid decreed, out of nowhere, a five-kilometre minimum setback for offshore wind turbines (compared to 550 metres for onshore ones), in part, he said, so people coming down to the beach wouldn’t have to look up at them.
In other words, Duguid announced a setback policy based on aesthetics — how wind turbines look — a reversal of McGuinty’s earlier position that anyone opposed to wind turbines for any reason other than genuine safety or environmental concerns, was a NIMBY.
And again, of course, McGuinty’s climb down on offshore wind turbines had nothing to do with the fact Toronto Hydro’s proposal to build a 60-turbine wind farm in Lake Ontario off the Scarborough Bluffs had ticked off voters in four Liberal-held ridings — five counting Duguid’s.
Meanwhile, McGuinty has infuriated rural voters across Ontario by the high-handed way he imposed onshore wind farms in their communities, while electricity consumers across Ontario are complaining about the costs of super-expensive green energy contributing to skyrocketing hydro bills.
Too bad for McGuinty, Al Gore can’t vote in the next election. At least he seems to be a, pardon the pun, big fan.